The Gift of Listening
The season for cheesy Christmas movies is finally here and I have unashamedly taken full advantage of it. In one of the movies I watched earlier this week, I picked up on a recurring theme that I am all too familiar with.
In this particular movie (What movie?), the female protagonist had just gotten engaged to her high-end, business boyfriend. When she attended a Christmas party with him the next evening, she was telling him about how beautiful the proposal was and how that giant dazzling rock on her finger was everything she had ever dreamed of and more. Her fiancé was nodding his head in agreement, smiling at her, when really his gestures were the perfect responses for not only her words, but the conversation he was having over the tiny Bluetooth stuck to his ear. Low blow, right? Well, it got me thinking.
Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation with someone who was very obviously not listening to you? Or how about a conversation with someone who interrupted you by filling in your sentence with his or her own thoughts? Maybe it was not even an audible interruption. Perhaps it was something more along the lines of texting while listening. Whatever it is, we have all experienced something like this and have been guilty of it too.
What is the purpose of getting together for a rendezvous if you or the person in your atmosphere is not fully present in the conversation? It only amounts to one or both of you leaving the conversation feeling unheard, unwanted, and unimportant.
Listening is a gift that must be shared by you, along with everyone else out of an intentional desire and purposeful effort for the voice that is in your presence to be heard.
We have one mouth and two ears for a reason, you know. Think about the multitude of ways in which you can offend others with your mouth compared to the impossibility of offending others with your ears.
My advice to you: be fully present.
Put your phone in your purse and only answer it in case of an emergency. Text messages can wait. I know some of you may be professional multitaskers, but when you are in the presence of someone, the only task that you should hold is being fully present throughout the entire conversation. Regardless of your awesome "listening and texting at the same time" skills, it is deeply offensive to others when your eyes and ears are not on the person in your presence whose voice deserves to be heard. Not being fully present in conversations can easily become the root of an unresolved problem in your relationships.
Ladies, always offer the gift of listening to the people around you. Listen with a commitment to hear exactly what another person is saying. Do not just listen to their words; listen for implications in their words and for the purpose behind what it is that they are saying. Hear what the person is feeling, and be able to feel what they feel as a result. Listen with your heart, soul, and mind. This is what it looks like to be fully present.
Listening is certainly a spiritual gift. Because we all have ears, we all have the gift. How we use it is up to us. Use it right. All listening requires us to set our selves aside and offer a validation, acknowledgement, and regard to what one is seeking by placing our entire focus on them.
When we speak, we want to be heard. When others speak, they want to be heard as well. We all have stories to share, points to make, and feelings to express. It does not matter if you disagree with points made, have already heard the stories being shared, or are too concerned about your own feelings; everyone deserves the chance to be heard in every conversation they take part in. So take care of you before you partake in a conversation with and for someone else.
We must start and continue to set the example of being fully present in conversation. This is a great challenge and a rewarding opportunity to start with your friends and family, especially during this holiday season when everyone comes together. I want to challenge you to make the commitment to be fully present starting now. When you water your conversations with intention by giving the present of your presence, your relationships will grow in deep, abundant and rewardingly rich ways.
The gift of listening is the gift of healing. Be a healer.
Here are some quotes on the gift of listening that I would like to leave you with today:
"Silence is a source of great strength." —Lao Tzu
"One friend, one person who is truly understanding, who takes the trouble to listen to us as we consider a problem, can change our whole outlook on the world." —Dr. E. H. Mayo
"There is no such thing as a worthless conversation, provided you know what to listen for. And questions are the breath of life for a conversation." —James Nathan Miller
"You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time." —M. Scott Peck
"Listening looks easy, but it's not simple. Every head is a world." —Cuban Proverb
"If speaking is silver, then listening is gold." —Turkish Proverb
"To listen fully means to pay close attention to what is being said beneath the words. You listen not only to the 'music,' but to the essence of the person speaking. You listen not only for what someone knows, but for what he or she is. Ears operate at the speed of sound, which is far slower than the speed of light the eyes take in. Generative listening is the art of developing deeper silences in yourself, so you can slow our mind’s hearing to your ears’ natural speed, and hear beneath the words to their meaning." —Peter Senge